A Community by the River

Borough of Brielle, NJ

October 8th, 2013

December 06 2013

October 8th, 2013


The Regular meeting of the Brielle Planning Board was held on Tuesday, October 8, 2013 at 7:30 pm in the Brielle Borough Hall, 601 Union Lane. After a moment of silent prayer and a salute to the flag, roll call was taken:

Present --- Councilman Frank Garruzzo, Thomas Condon, Gina Murdoch, Charles Sarnasi James Stenson, Terre Vitale

Absent - Mayor Thomas Nicol, James Langenberger (in audience but not on dais), John O'Donnell, Tim Sigler

Also present was Karen S. Brisben, Recording Secretary, Michael Rubino, Board Attorney and Alan Hilla, Jr., Board Engineer. The room was filled to capacity with more in the outer area.

Chairman Condon called the meeting to order and declared a quorum. He announced that, in compliance with the Open Public Meetings Act, notice of this Body's meeting had been sent to the official newspapers of the Board fixing the time and place of all hearings.

The Chairman also made the announcement that the hearing scheduled this evening for 406 Higgins Avenue, Urban Kitchen, was pulled from the agenda and the application for 803 Ashley Avenue was postponed, by the applicant, until the November 12, 2013 meeting of the Planning Board; no further notice will be given.

The Minutes of the September 10, 2013 meeting were approved on a motion by Mrs. Murdoch, seconded by Mr. Stenson and approved unanimously by voice vote, all aye.


A copy of a notice to the NJDEP was received for Block 92.01, Lot 8-8.01, 400 Laurel Avenue, owned by Walter R. Earle, II, to allow installation of a retaining wall to prevent further erosion.

The July-August issue of the NJ Planner was received, as well as a notice of a session on the Master Plan for Monmouth County to be held October 21st in Freehold.


The Board turned to the continuation of a variance application for Block 78.02, Lot 13, 416 Higgins Avenue, owned by 416 Higgins Avenue, LLC (site of=Eloise's Cafe) to allow continuation of parking deficiencies for combined restaurant & retail food establishment Before this started, Councilman Garruzzo recused himself from hearing this application and it was put into the.record that Terre Vitale. had listened to the tape of last month's hearing and was, therefore, eligible to vote.

Mr. Rubino then spoke andsaid he may have changed his opinion on this being a Use Variance application, due to the fact that the upstairs apartment was not being changed in any way. He felt that if there are. the required two parking spaces for this apartment then there is not a Use Variance-needed, however, if the parking is inadequate, then this is considered a Use Variance and 5;favorable votes will be needed for approval. He said, at this time, he would be comfortable in not considering this awUse Variance.

Mr. Condon noted that, as the other applications this evening have been taken off the agenda, the Board can extend the time for this hearing. .

Mr. Patrick Accisano then came forward and. reminded the Board that the Professional Engineer was not able to be present last month and is here tonight to testify, he is a Professional Planner & Engineer. They want to ask for 1) an appeal to Mr. Langenberger's Violations summons as: they-did not feel the Municipality had the standing to uphold that testimony. and 2) if not, they are asking for a waiver. He confirmed that there is no expansion: of the :2`d floor apartment and they do have the required two parking spaces so a "D" Variance is not the case here, no Use Variance.

He then went over the exhibits'submitted and they were marked as follows:

A-1 Minor Site Plan of Maser Consulting, September 3, 2013_
A-2 Photos of site
A-3 August 6, 2013 letter from Mr. Accisano to the Board
A-4 August 8, 2013 letter from Mr. Accisano to Karen Brisben, Board Secretary
A-5 Survey dated May 1-0, 1986 prepared by Thomas H. Stuart
A-6 Application dated August 1, 2013
A-7 Brielle Health Inspection Licenses 2013, 2011, 2010 & 2009
A-8 Lease Agreement dated June 29, 2013 for Garruzzo lot
A-9 Seating Diagram dated September 27, 203
A-10 Color Leased Parking Exhibit dated September 27, 2013
A-11 September 23, 2013 letter from Mr. Accisano
A-12 Affidavit dated September 11, 2013
B-1 Notice of Violation dated June 18, 2013
B-2 Notice of Violation dated June 21, 2013
B-3 August 26, 2013 letter of Alan Hilla, Board Engineer
B-4 September 6, 2013 Report of Alan Hilla, Board Engineer

Mr. Rubino was agreeable to marking these into the record.

Mr. Richard Kenderian then came forward and was sworn in, he is a Professional Planner & Engineer in N.J. and other states. He was a Principal of KZA Engineering in Wall Twp. which merged with Masur Consulting in 2012. The Board accepted him as an expert witness but Mr. Accisano wanted him to continue with his credentials as he also is the owner of this property.' Mr. Kenderian then proceeded to state he is a member of several societies & associations and has been in constructing & engineering since 1972; he has worked on more than 1,000 applications in New Jersey, New York, Connecticut and Pennsylvania.

He explained that this application is not requiring any expansion or
improvements, the property fronts on Higgins Avenue and, they did a Site Plan. This property has 8,250 square feet with a two story structure of 1,435 for a cafelrestauraht and a two bedroom apartment & two car garage. The only change they are proposing is to install bollards for safety. He did a seating chart which shows 44 seats inside and 20 seats outside maximum (they do not usually use 20 seats outside). There is a 294 square foot storage area as well as a 351 square foot kitchen, a 105 square foot stairwell and the balance of service is dining. They have 64 seats which would require 14.35 parking spaces, or 15 and 2 for the apartment so the total is 17 spaces onsite for parking.

Mr. Rubino asked if the two car garage is useable and Mr. Kenderian said they are working on it and it should be useable by spring of next year. There are 3 spaces in the driveway and 6 in the front of the building, including an ADA space, so there are 11 onsite spaces and they have a lease to use the parking lot across the street which has 35 spaces in it. The onside uses there are 3 apartments which would need 6 spaces and .11 spaces for a 2200 square foot office area. So they need 17 spaces for Eloise's and have 11 and there are more than enough spaces across. the street to accommodate the uses there as well as the balance due for Eloise's.

Mr. Kenderian testified that he owns this property along with his wife and Eloise has been the most successful tenant he has had. This is a great area to live in and he noted he received so much help after Superstorm Sandy to help clean up, there has been no problems with parking issues since he purchased this in 1986. Mr. Sarnasi asked if there are signs across the street stating they can be used for Eloise's and Mr. Kenderian said people know they can use this area and commented Due Amici, the restaurant next door, uses their lot in the evening when Eloise's is closed and they use their lot during the day when Due Amici is closed.

Mr. Hilla spoke and questioned how Mr. Kenderian came up with the. figures for the Garruzzo lot and, after a brief discussion, it was confirmed that even with Mr. Hilla's figures there were still 5 extra spaces available. Mr. Condon asked how someone gets out of the garage if the side area has cars parked and Mr. Kenderian said that does not happen, but if it did, someone would move their car, it's the employees who park there.

Mr. Hilla asked about. the proposed bollards as far as room for a walkway and ADA usage and Mr. Kenderian said they are 4 feet through with 8.5 minimum distance between the windows, plenty of room. for pedestrian passage and ADA compliance: Mr. Hilla said he only scaled the parking for the inside but if the building is 50 feet wide with an 8 foot front it would require more parking spaces for outside dining. -Mr. Kenderian countered with the-fact that they still have enough spaces across the street.

Mr. Accisano then went back to the Use Variance or "D" Variance issue and asked that that be resolved as he did not feel it applied in this case. The Board agreed and a motion was made, by Mrs. Murdoch-, that this application not be considered a Use Variance, this seconded by Mrs. Vitale and approved by the following roll call vote:

Ayes: Thomas Condon, Gina- Murdoch, Charles Sarnasi, James Stenson, Terre Vitale

Noes: None

At this time the hearing was opened to the public for questions to Mr. Kenderian only, As there was no response, that portion was closed.

Mr. Hilla wanted to go over the lease arrangements with the property across the street as it is only for one year. Mr. Accisano explained that it is an automatic: renewal unless either party wants to cancel- it and there is a`60 day window after the notice is given. Mr. Rubino suggested putting this in the Resolution, it can be tied to the- renewal of the Mercantile' License: Mr. Hilla was agreeable to that, he just did not want to see it get "lost".

Mr. Rubino stated he had requested Mr. Langenberger, Code Enforcement Official, to attend this evening and speak to ail as he was the one that wrote up the original violation. Mr. Langenberger came forward and was sworn in; he testified that on or before any letters went out, he. received a complaint on restaurant use on Higgins Avenue for 2 places. He met with- the Borough Engineer and they decided there are parking: issues at these establishments and he noted there have been no changes for Boise's in the 14 years it has been there and no parking problems This always was a C-1 Commercial Zone and there was. a barber shop and then a vacuum cleaner slier) in this location.

As there were no Board questions to Mr. Langenberger, the hearing was opened to the public for questions only. Mr. Mark Morro of 611 Locust Road came forward and was sworn in. He wanted to know where the original complaint came from and Mr. Langenberger said it came from Simko's Restaurant. At this time Mr. Mike Simko came forward and was sworn in and asked Mr. Langenberger if there ever was a complaint on Boise's from him or anyone from Simko's and the answer was no. Mr. Simko then asked if he did tell Mr. Langenberger this application being heard is "crazy" and Mr. Langenberger said there were several conversations and he did not remember word for word all of them. Mr. Simko then asked what started this whole thing and Mr. Langenberger said the complaint on the Urban Kitchen. Mr. Morrow spoke up and did not feel his question was answered but Mr. Condon said Mr. Langenberger gave his answer.

Mr. Charlie Bonnici then came forward and was sworn in, no address given. He wanted to know why a. summons was. issued if this is a pre-existing issue? Mr. Langenberger said it was a Violation Notice; when they looked at the square footage of Eloise's it was deficient on parking so letters were sent out to the two restaurants that had this problem. Mr. Bonnici said this is a pre-existing issue but Mr. Rubino countered with the Board doesn't know what was requested long ago and, as a Board, are sifting with no information on what was allowed when Eloise's started; the Borough parking Ordinance has not changed. Mr. Bonnici said this is an accepted use and Mr. Rubino stated that Mr. Langenberger is doing his job and he found nothing in the records stating the parking here is legal, the Board is here to make that decision.

Mr. Simko came forward again and felt if the town starts picking on every spot there will be problems. Mr. Langenberger said he does not look for problems, Mr. Simko came to him and that is what started this research into the parking problems, for the two restaurants, that is how all this got generated.

As there were no more questions from the audience that part of the hearing was closed. The meeting was then opened again to the public, this time for general comments. George Perk of 715 Ashley Avenue came forward and was sworn in, he has lived there for 13 years, goes to Eloise's Cafe and enjoys it. He didn't understand why they are here and said on 6116 he was at Simko's for Brunch and the Urban Kitchen across was crowded with people waiting. At 12:45 pm a complaint was filed and they were brought up on violations. Mr. Perk then started speaking of rumors he had heard about Mayor Nicol having an interest in Simko's and both Mr. Condon and Mr. Rubino stopped him from continuing and not going into personal remarks about anyone.

Next to come forward was Stewart Schlem who was sworn in, he stated he lives in Marlboro but frequents the restaurants in the area. He understood what Mr. Langenberger did was within the law and it appears the Board is trying to make this work, but if the Board will not work with the local businesses then patrons will go elsewhere; Mr. Langenberger followed the letter of the law but it is up to the Board to fix it.

Mr. Morro came forward again and feft.it was unfair that Eloise Knight had to come before the Board and. have this hearing, we should. all work with each other and he hoped the outcome was a favorable one. Mr. Simko came forward and stated he has no-partners and never had.. He did not see any parking problems with Eloise's and. this issue should not be taken out on her; however; if there is a problem it should be taken care of right away. He felt it Was a shame that Mr. Langenberger had to take the abuse he did tonight as he is just doing his job.. .

Joan Wilde of 106 Ashley Avenue came forward and was sworn in. She agreed with all that was said and never saw a problem with Eloise's, she would like to see this all "go away". Joe, Crecca of 810 Ashley Avenue then was sworn inand said he was a former member of the Zoning Board andhe understood why we got here and what Mr: Langenberger did: He has lived here for along time and never saw a parking. problem at Eloise's,- he has lived here for 35 years; he hoped common senses prevailed. and there was a favorable vote; Next to be sworn in was Nettie Cifune of 22 Church. Street in - Manasquan. She said she has been friends with Eloise Knight for 24 years and, she is-a hard: worker; she then turned around and faced Mr. Simko-and suggested-he-give her 10 spots to use. Mr. Rubino asked her to please address the Board and not Mr. Simko. She ended by stating she thinks this is ridiculous. Mr. Bonicci came forward again and repeated this is a pre-existing use and this action is not legal and the meeting should be. over.

As there were no further comments by the public, that portion of the hearing was closed and Mr. Accisano came forward to. sum_ up the application. The first portion of this is to appeal the Notice of Violation,: this use goes back to 1998,- Mr. Kenderian, said it goes back to 1996 and these years are not disputed. The evidence is that this is pre¬existing'and all Eloise wants to dais what she has been doing so they ask that it be granted; both the positive and negative criteria have been justified as-this is an undersized lot and he noted there is tight parking all along Higgins Avenue, -This use has existed for decades with no problem and he hoped the Board will dismiss the Notice: of Violation.. Eloise's is like the "Cheers" of Brielle, a cornerstone that is a comfy place to come to and it should be continued. .

At this time the Board went into comments: Mrs: Murdoch understood:.that. Mr. Langenberger did what he was expected to do and it created a difficult position. She questioned what happens when this is not Eloise's anymore, what protection will the next person have. Mr.Rubino said if the store is sold any variance granted will be
grandfathered in. Mr.. Sarnasi agreed Mr. Langenberger did his job, this is an existing condition which works here, he had no problem in it continuing.. Mr. Stenson said he . would like to. dismiss the Notice of Violation.- Mrs. Vitale said this is the reason why executioners wear masks, Mr. Langenberger did his job and she noted she worked there many years ago when there was no outside dining.

Mr. Rubino noted there are not records as to what happened back in the 1990s, detailed records were not kept at that time so, from a legal standpoint, it's on the town to keep accurate records. Eloise got permission to run her establishment back in the 1990s and the problem is records and whose burden is this one, the Board has to rely on testimony given in this hearing. He, too, emphasized that Mr. Langenberger was doing his job. Mr. Condon agreed with Mr. Rubino and told all that Mr. Langenberger does a good job for the town; at this time he made a motion to dismiss this but would like to see the safety measures that Mr. Kenderian spoke of taken care of.

Mr. Rubino said if the application is dismissed then the next person will have a problem with parking as there will be no variance to allow it here, he just wanted to point that out to the Board members. If a variance is given then it will go with the land and the variance will stay here for future use. However, it's up to the Board. Mr. Accisano said that, in regards to the lease, he would like it to be self-policing. He has counseled Eloise on what to do but did not want conditions of approval, winter is coming and she would rather take matters on her own accord. Mr. Rubino said there is a motion on the table to make the Notice of Violation go away.

At this time Mr. Condon again stated he is making a motion to dismiss the Notice of Violation, this was seconded by Mr. Stenson and approved by the following roll call vote:

Ayes: Thomas Condon, Gina Murdoch, Charles Sarnasi, James Stenson, Terre Vitale

Noes: None

As there was no further business to come before the Board, a motion was made by Mr. Stenson to adjourn, this seconded by Mrs. Vitale and approved unanimously by the Board, all aye. The meeting was adjourned at 8:49 pm.

Karen S. Brisben, Recording Secretary Approved: